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Including A Journey In Guatemala, Mexico And Yucatan, And A Visit To The Ruins Of Patinamit, Utatlan, Palenque And Uxmal.The attention of archæologists and students of the ancient Mexican hieroglyphs has latterly been directed to the mysterious subject of the origin of the astronomical and architectural knowledge that existed in Mexico, Guatemala, and Yucatan before the discovery of America. In the United States researches have also been made for the purpose of establishing, upon a scientific basis, conclusions respecting the tribes who made the extraordinary ramparts and geometrically planned inclosures in Ohio.It is a remarkable fact that although, since the period when Mexico was conquered by Cortes, an almost uninterrupted series of investigations have taken place into the peculiar conditions of civilization of the Mexican and Central American Indians, nothing satisfactory has yet been ascertained which explains the manner in which that civilization could have arisen amongst those exceptionally instructed races.More than twenty years then elapsed before the approaching termination of my naval career gave me sufficient leisure to examine my journals with that exclusive attention which the complicated and perplexing nature of the subject required. This interval of time has enabled me to obtain a more vivid perception of the relative proportions of the problem, and to bring together in a more defined focus the impressions and observations which had been written during the journey. The theories then adopted have been modified or strengthened by the knowledge that has been subsequently acquired in other quarters of the world.It will be observed, upon an examination of the illustrations of the ruins of Uxmal, that the Indians in Yucatan must have possessed great architectural capacities. Pyramids, Temples, Monasteries and other religious structures were built under most difficult circumstances, in a manner which commands admiration.But it is not only the later civilization of the Mexican Indians that has to be taken into consideration in any attempts that may be made to solve the difficult and complex problem of this Indian advance towards higher conditions of life. Underlying the whole question are the native proclivities based upon the strange and significant practices of earlier forms of Pagan superstitions and sacrifices. Some of the profoundly interesting characteristics of these developments of the aboriginal Indian belief in supernatural influences have formed the subject of that chapter which relates to the ancient religious observances of the North American Indians.
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